Materials Selection Policy

Policies and Objectives

The purpose of this policy is to guide in the selection of materials and to inform the public about the principles upon which selections are made. 

Library Aims

The mission of Watertown Regional Library is connecting people to the joy of reading, information, and lifelong learning. The Library’s mission encompasses individuals and groups of every age, education, philosophy, occupation, economic level, ethnic origin and human condition. Fulfilling educational, informational and recreational needs is the Watertown Regional Library’s broad purpose. More specifically, it helps people to keep current with change in all areas, educate themselves continually, become better members of their families and communities, become socially and politically aware, be more capable in their occupations, develop their creative abilities and spiritual capacities, appreciate and enjoy literature and art, contribute to the overall expanse of knowledge, and stimulate their own personal and social well-being. All printed, non-printed, and electronic materials are selected by this library in accordance with these basic objectives.

Responsibility for Material Selection

This library board adopts as part of its policy the following paragraphs from the Library Bill of Rights:

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.  Final responsibility for selection of books and library materials is and shall be vested in the Library Director.  However, the Library Director may delegate, to such members of the staff as are qualified by reason of training, the authority to interpret and guide the application of the policy in making day-to-day selections.  Unusual problems will be referred to the Library Director for resolution. 

Criteria for Selection

Selection of library materials is guided by the following criteria:

  1. The author’s reputation and significance as a writer;
  2. The importance of subject matter to the collection;
  3. Availability of material in the system, in other libraries, or in print;
  4. Timeliness or permanence of the book;
  5. Authoritativeness;
  6. Inclusion in standard bibliographies or indexes;
  7. Price;
  8. Format.
  9. Federal, state, and local laws

Appropriateness of Materials

The selection of library materials is predicated on the library patrons’ right to read and similarly, their freedom from censorship by others. Many materials are controversial and any given item may offend someone. Selections for this library will not, however, be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the merits of the material in relation to the building of the collection and to serving the interests of the readers. This library holds censorship to be a purely individual matter and declares that while anyone is free to reject for themselves books and other materials of which they do not approve they cannot exercise the right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

With respect to the use of library materials by children, the decision as to what a minor may read is the responsibility of their parent or guardian. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into the possession of minors.

It is the right of any citizen of Watertown or library patron to recommend materials for selection consideration by the Watertown Regional Library, and it is the obligation of the Library Director and staff to consider such recommendations with the same evaluative criteria established above.  It is also the right of any citizen of Watertown or library patron to question any library material selected by the Watertown Regional Library since opinions may differ in our democracy. Such questions shall be presented in writing on forms developed and made available by the Library Director and shall be specific as to title and nature of the material being questioned.

Electronic Resources

The Library Board recognizes that the formats in which information is stored and transmitted are expanding and that as the library collects materials in the new formats, there will be duplication. Many of the new resources that will make up collections in the library will not physically be in the library building. The library will select these resources using the same types of criteria as is used for physical materials.

Scope of the Collection

The Library recognizes its obligations to provide reference and research materials for the direct answering of specific questions and for continuing research. It also recognizes the purposes and resources of other libraries in the community and shall not needlessly duplicate functions and materials.

The library acquires textbooks and other curriculum-related materials only when such materials serve the general public.

The library acknowledges a particular interest in local and state history; therefore, it will take a broad view of works by and about South Dakota authors as well as general works relating to the State of South Dakota, whether or not such materials meet the standards of selection in other respects. However, the library is not under any obligation to add to its collection everything about South Dakota or produced by authors, printers or publishers with South Dakota connections if it does not seem to be in the public interest to do so.

Maintaining the Collection 

Systematic withdrawal of materials no longer useful is necessary in order to maintain relevant resources. The same criteria will be used in weeding materials from the collection as are used in their acquisition. The decision to withdraw library material shall be based on the physical condition, use of the material as determined by last date of loan or by number of loans in the last five years, and age of the material as a misinformation factor, especially in the area of the sciences. Library staff members are to be thoroughly instructed with regard to the necessity for discarding books and library materials.


Unconditional gifts, donations, and contributions to the library may be accepted by the Library Director on behalf of the Library Board. No gifts or donations conditionally made shall be accepted without the approval of the Library Board.

Generally, collections of books will not be accepted with restrictions which necessitate special housing, or which prevent integration of the gift into the general library collection.

The same standards of selection will govern the acceptance of gifts as govern purchase by the library. If material is useful but not needed, it may be disposed of at the discretion of the Library Director. The library will dispose of these resources using the same types of criteria used for maintaining the collection. 

Adopted: March 25, 1986
Revised: July 6, 2010; September 8, 2021; August 1, 2023